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With more than 1500 acres of boating and fishing waters, bordered by a wide variety of shoreline vistas, Lake Lillinonah in southwestern Connecticut is a great outdoor enjoyment destination. Lake Lillinonah provides recreation areas with boat ramps, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The lake is quite long, stretching some 12 miles and very river-like, with steep forested banks along most of its length. New Milford is located at the northern end and the southern end is defined by the Shepaug Dam. Lake Lillinonah's 45 miles of shoreline supplies a wonderful canoeing, kayaking or other boating experience for a visitor.
Lake Lillinonah was created by Connecticut Light and Power by building the Shepaug Dam to impound the Housatonic River. The resulting reservoir was designed primarily for generation of hydroelectric power and flood control - FirstLight Power Resources operates the dam. Construction of the dam, and powerhouse was completed in 1955. A 57,000 horsepower turbine spins an output of 42,600 kilowatts for the utility.
Lake Lillinonah is very popular with anglers for its populations of bass (large and smallmouth), black crappie, white and yellow perch, northern pike, sunfish, and large bullhead catfish. Lake Lillinonah ranks first in the state for its bass growth rates. It is host to an average of 50 annual competition bass fishing tournaments, second only to Lake Candlewood in the state (see Lakelubber's Lake Candlewood). The state record northern pike (29 pounds) was caught in the lake. With two large boat launching sites and a long season including ice fishing for winters, fishing is good year round.
For those more 'into' water activities, kayaking/canoeing is very popular, along with water skiing. The Housatonic River 'Trail' has been established to capitalize on that popularity. The area has an abundance of birdlife with Bald Eagles making their Fall/Winter home below Shepaug Dam - a viewing area has been established in that location. For the geocachers among us, there are more than 200 caches within reach. Combine your birding with your geocaching for a great outing. The picturesque lake environs make for ideal conditions for nature enthusiasts and camera bugs.
Visitors to southwestern Connecticut should make Lake Lillinonah one of the top places to stop, relax and 'smell the roses' and FISH.
Reference: A Fisheries Guide to Lakes and Ponds of Connecticut, published by the Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, Connecticut, 2002
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